Lesson: Preparing for Marriage: Before You Say "I Do"
God created us male and female, and He created in us the desire to love and be loved, to form an intimate relationship with our soul mate. He blesses this union in marriage, and He teaches us in the Bible many things we can do to prepare for a successful and happy marriage.
Consider this long-lasting love story condensed from the article "Secrets
Edward and Angie Smith were high school sweethearts. They met when
they were freshmen and started dating their senior year. They graduated
in May of 1944, and were married Oct. 8, 1944, on Angie's 18th birthday.
Nine months later, Ed was drafted into the army. Of course, the couple
didn't want to be separated, so Angie traveled with him as much as possible.
But when Ed was sent to Germany for a year, Angie returned to her parents'
During that year, the Smiths did their best to stay close. Ed wrote
his wife every day. Angie feels God helped them to be faithful to each
Thinking back to those early years Ed says, "Obviously, the early portion
of married life can be a 'testing time'—letting your thoughts, moods,
emotions and plans blend into a harmonious unit [in an effort] to become
truly synergistic. Having to leave my bride of just over a year behind,
while serving in the military at the Nuremberg Trials in Germany, was
a sad time."
Finding a job just after World War II was not easy either, and there
was very little pay in those days. With teamwork and careful planning,
however, he explained that they were able to buy and pay for their first
Over the years, Ed and Angie Smith survived many other trials that
tested their faith and courage. "It was not easy at all, but our love
for God and one another pulled us through," he said.
Ed Smith reminds couples that "prayer is vital. Ask God to guide the
decisions. I still remember vividly praying (as best I knew how): 'God,
if it is Your will and this is the wife I should have, please let it
be.' He graciously answered with the 'best wife in all the world!'"
He encouraged those thinking about marriage to get to know each other.
"Even play some type of competitive game in which there is a winner
and loser and see how the prospective spouse controls or loses their
temper or composure. Look for extreme mood swings. Observe how the prospective
mate handles their relationship with their parents, siblings, friends,
etc. Chances are you will be handled in much the same way."
Ed Smith summed up his secrets of true love with these Cs: "Commitment,
communication, cooperation and compromise for the mutual care and concern
of one another is most vital. Planning and doing things together is
very necessary. We never wanted to be apart—where one went, the other
wanted to go.
"Love must be shown and genuinely expressed. I often tell my wife:
'Honey, when I married you 55 years ago—I thought I loved you, and now
55 years later—I know I love you.' Remain the best of friends and always
be faithful to each other," he said.
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What Does the Bible Say About Preparing for Marriage?
How can we prepare ourselves physically and financially for marriage?
Proverbs 24:27, New Living Translation
Develop your business first before building your house.
1 Timothy 5:8
But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of
his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
God's way of life is a way of planning and preparation. We should diligently
study and plan our education to prepare for a career that not only makes
use of our talents, interests and skills, but will help support our future
family. We should learn the value of being a valuable employee.
Also, learn the life skills you'll need, such as budgeting, wise financial
planning, home care and repair, nutrition and cooking, clothing care,
communication, conflict resolution, how to treat the opposite sex, etc.
What spiritual character traits does God want us to develop?
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade
itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its
own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity,
but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes
all things, endures all things.
Love never fails...
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there
is no law.
These and other spiritual characteristics provide us with a lifetime
goal for growth. God's Holy Spirit, given after repentance and baptism
(Acts 2:38), is a key ingredient in making this spiritual growth possible.
But even before baptism we need to be aware of these characteristics and
be seeking God's help to develop them.
How does this relate to preparing for marriage? Without a growing level
of emotional and spiritual maturity and character, frictions and conflicts
can eat away at a marriage. With a commitment to these spiritual characteristics,
we can work through the natural tensions and challenges that every marriage
What does God require and want from you in marriage?
Ephesians 5:22-25, 28, 33
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church;
and He is the Savior of the body.
Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be
to their own husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave
Himself for her...
So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who
loves his wife loves himself...
Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as
himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
1 Peter 3:1-2, 5-7
Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some
do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct
of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by
For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God
also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah
obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good
and are not afraid with any terror.
Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to
the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the
grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.
It is important to study the biblical instructions that you will be agreeing
to in marriage. Understanding what we are committing to and considering
how to apply these principles is a key part of making a strong and permanent
commitment. See the "Apply Now" and "Related Resources" sections below
for additional study on these roles and commitments in marriage.
During Bible times, arranged marriages were common, so our modern method
of choosing a mate is not discussed in the Bible. But the Bible has a
great deal of advice on how to make decisions and choices, and these can
apply in marriage as well.
What kinds of relationships does God warn us to avoid?
Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go...
I went by the field of the lazy man, and by the vineyard of the man devoid
of understanding; and there it was, all overgrown with thorns; its surface
was covered with nettles; its stone wall was broken down.
When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction:
A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest;
so shall your poverty come like a prowler, and your need like an armed
2 Corinthians 6:14-15
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship
has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with
And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with
A friendship with an angry man can be damaging enough, but the terrible
scourge of abusive marriages is a stark warning to someone contemplating
marriage. Laziness is another warning sign we should not ignore as we
get to know potential marriage partners.
Since our relationship with God should be paramount in our lives, the
apostle Paul warned us not to choose to marry someone who doesn't share
our deepest beliefs and spiritual commitments. Marriage is intended to
be the most intimate relationship, so we should try to find someone like-minded
who we can share our deepest thoughts and dreams with.
How can we choose our future mate wisely?
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and
it will be opened to you.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors
there is safety.
"For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down
first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after
he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it
begin to mock him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able
The biblical principles of decision making apply to choosing a husband
or wife as well. We start by praying for God's guidance and seeking His
will by studying the biblical passages on the subject. God tells us He
does answer our prayers when we pray unselfishly and pray according to
His will (James 4:3; 1 John 5:14). However, we must remember that His
time frame is much different from ours, so we must learn patience. When
we strive to seek God's wisdom and follow biblical principles, we can
entrust our decisions and the worries that naturally accompany them to
God (Proverbs 3:5-6; Matthew 6:33-34).
God encourages us to seek wise counsel about our decisions. Our parents
know us well, sometimes better than we know ourselves, and they have our
best interest in mind. Seek their advice and input. Ministerial counsel
is also a great benefit in understanding the biblical principles and roles
and in practical application of those principles.
The Marriage Commitment
How does God view marriage and divorce?
And He answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who
made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For
this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to
his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?
"So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what
God has joined together, let not man separate."
Yet you say, "For what reason?" Because the Lord has been
witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt
treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant.
But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why
one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and
let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.
"For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers
one's garment with violence," says the Lord of hosts. "Therefore
take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously."
As we saw earlier, the marriage relationship is a type of the eternal,
spiritual relationship of Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:25-32). In
picturing that relationship, we learn how important commitment is to our
faithful God. God's commitments are eternal! He wants us to share in a
wonderful, stable and committed relationship with Him, and He gives us
marriage and other relationships now to learn and grow in that kind of
Preparing for marriage is a major subject that we have only scratched
the surface of. Please read some of the "Related Resources" below and
seek parental and ministerial counseling early and throughout your relationship
so you can be well prepared for a loving and lasting marriage.